Religion Today Summaries, January 19, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, January 19, 2004

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.  In today's edition:

  • Conservative Episcopalians to Meet in Lone Star State
  • President Demands Arrests after Church Attacks
  • Website Offers Musical Journey Back to Era of 'Jesus People’
  • Pastor at Prayer Shot Dead in Tajikistan

Conservative Episcopalians to Meet in Lone Star State
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A new network of conservative Episcopal dioceses and congregations will be gathering in Texas on Monday to approve a charter. In protest of the Episcopal Church USA's ordination of an openly homosexual bishop, traditionalist Episcopalians recently formed the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes.  The group hopes to realign itself with the worldwide Anglican Communion without separating from the Episcopal Church. Pittsburgh bishop Bob Duncan, who serves as the Network's moderator, says the two-day charter meeting in Plano will be a historic event. "We're going to have representatives of the thirteen dioceses whose bishops have committed to try to build this [group]," Duncan explains.  Duncan says the Network will also adopt a theological statement that has been "produced in preparation for this Network" and that is "thoroughly biblical and thoroughly recognizable by our Christian brothers and sisters." The bishop says dioceses in the Caribbean and Latin America are expected to join the Network in the future, along with several orthodox Canadian dioceses.  Three-thousand conservative Episcopalians met last weekend in Virginia to consider their place in the denomination in the wake of the decision by ECUSA's leadership to consecrate New Hampshire Bishop Vicki Gene Robinson, an open homosexual.

President Demands Arrests after Church Attacks
Voice of the Martyrs

Sri Lanka's President ordered the police to "show no leniency in arresting those responsible" for attacks against Christians. The Catholic Church here condemned the latest attack on Thursday which came amid stepped up violence against Christian places of worship in several parts of the country over the past month. Some Buddhist groups have been demanding a law to ban what they call "unethical conversions." Like their counterparts in India, they falsely accuse Christians of offering cash to poor people to persuade them to convert. A police spokesman said an investigation was under way and a man had been arrested in connection with the attack on the church.

Website Offers Musical Journey Back to Era of 'Jesus People'
James Lambert, Agape Press

Dave Hollandsworth has a unique hobby. Like most people, he has a daily job -- but he also has a passion to share music from a generation that, for the most part, has long been forgotten by many Christians. Hollandsworth is the webmaster for a website entitled The unique site links many of the out-of-print and "lost" music artists from the "Jesus people" generation of the 1970s and early 1980s. This site allows visitors to locate some great contemporary Christian music of time past. Among the musicians chronicled in the "Artists" section of the website are Love Song, Second Chapter of Acts, Phil Keaggy, Barry McGuire, Larry Norman, The Way, Parable, Randy Stonehill, Bob Bennett, the Boone girls, Daniel Amos, the Paul Clark Band, the Edwin Hawkins singers, Ralph Carmichael, Children of the Day -- and scores of others. In addition to providing links about artists, Hollandsworth has compiled a history of the "Jesus Movement" -- a period of spiritual revival that arguably has been unmatched in the last 50 years. In a number of cases, visitors can contact the original artists and order old recordings that have been either reproduced on CD or are for sale via the Internet.  Hollandsworth is hopeful that his efforts provide spiritual benefits to those who visit the website.

Pastor at Prayer Shot Dead in Tajikistan
Barnabas News Fund

A pastor who was also an active missionary has been shot dead while he was praying in a chapel. At 9.00pm on Monday 12 January gunmen burst into a churchyard in Isfara in the north of Tajikistan and fired several rounds through a window at Sergei Bessarab as he was kneeling in prayer. On hearing the gunfire, his wife, Tamara, rushed to her husband’s side but he was already dead. He was shot 13 times with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.  A local newspaper had only a week before attacked Bessarab for his missionary work in this staunchly Muslim region. Women are often seen wearing the veil in villages and alcohol is taboo, indeed shops stocking it have sometimes been burnt down. The hard-line Islamic Revival Party garnered a large majority of the local vote in recent elections, despite central government attempts to curb the growth of Islamic extremism. Bessarab’s handing out of Christian literature aroused considerable local anger. Nevertheless police have not yet confirmed that the suspected motive for the murder was his missionary activity.